Friday, July 5, 2013

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger

"The Lone Ranger"

Starring: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp
Directed By: Gore Verbinski

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

    "The Lone Ranger" opened July 3 to universally lukewarm reviews.  There have been many criticisms,  not the least of which is that a lot of the material is a rehash, including the aging Tonto (Johnny Depp) telling the story much like Dustin Hoffman did in "Little Big Man" years ago.  I don't really get all of the negativity.  We went to the movie expecting an off-beat, summer blockbuster.  We thought we would see an action packed and entertaining movie, and we did.  We didn't go expecting "Citizen Kane" or a documentary on genocide of native Americans.  We went to be entertained and that we were.

     I watched all of The Lone Ranger TV shows as a kid.  I had a mask, a white hat and could holler "Hi Ho, Silver" with the best of them.  I'm a a fan.  So, I was excited that this story was being reprised as a major motion picture.  When I learned that Johnny Depp was cast as Tonto, my excited anticipation went up a notch..   I don't know much about Armie Hammer, but he certainly looked like he would be a good Lone Ranger.  Knowing that Depp would dominate the movie  made me wonder how this story would work from Tonto's point of view.  Well, I think it worked great.

     The writers were able to tell the familiar story of the survival of Texas Ranger John Reid and how he was transformed from a legalistic, non-violent academic into a gun-toting vigilante.  The writers were able to weld on a plausible back-story for Tonto as well.  The plot becomes a bit convoluted as these two back stories are woven into a new story of greed and deceit perpetrated by the new Trans-continental railroad.  I think the whole thing worked, although other reviewers thought the plot a bit unwieldy.  A lot of the criticisms I have read was that the movie was "choppy" or uneven.  I think that the writers' ambition to tell multiple stories is responsible for that.

     Johnny Depp does indeed dominate the movie, and his interpretation of Tonto is certainly different from Jay Silverheels' in the 1950s.  There is reference genocide of Native Americans but that is not the main thrust of the movie.  Depp does not just take Jack Sparrow to the 1800s.  He definitely creates a unique, conflicted and, yes, humorous Tonto.
    The final twenty minutes of the movie, though are the highlight.  The final action sequence, featuring runaway trains, exploding bridges, the Lone Ranger riding Silver along the top of a train and a fitting outcome for all of the "good guys" as well as the "bad guys" brings the movie to a very thrilling conclusion and made me want to know when the sequel would be released.

     Reality was suspended for 2+ hours, I was entertained and thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Isn't that what summer movies are supposed to do?  

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